Today’s Guest Post comes from one of my IRL friends, we started running more seriously around the same time and she is gearing up for her first half-marathon! I am so excited to see her accomplish this goal. Please give some love to Liz and visit her blog!
(And because we are in the process of moving & the drive my photos are on is packed you get only the photo I steal from her website muahaha)
I’ll state it right up front. I’m newish to this whole running thing. I’ve run some races. I’ve attended the post-race beer tent parties. I’ve slogged out runs in the snow, rain, humidity, crisp air and anything else New England can throw at me. It’s mostly short races or just jogging around the neighborhood for the last 18 months. And in that short time, I’ve had some ups and downs. I’ve started training plans and bailed on them. And I’ve started training plans and stuck to them. All on the quest to become a runner.
I’m still figuring out pacing and am still run/walking at various intervals so I mostly run solo. I’m a little afraid of holding back a fellow runner or trying to keep up and falling flat on my face. But I will say. No matter if I’m running alone or with a buddy, when my shoes are laced up and I’m out putting in the miles I’m surrounded by friends. They’re just…stranger friends. It’s cool. They’re nice. Sometimes they even have cookies.
Every week I do a run or two on the treadmill and always do my cross training (the dreaded elliptical) in the fitness center in my office park. And every week on the same nights I see the same people. We exchange a brief head nod or smile and then go about our respective workouts, never really connecting other than knowing we’re both there to a) lose weight b) stay fit c) burn off stress or d) all of the above. It’s become routine. And expected. And encouraging. Because all I can ever think is that we are all there week in and week out while our co-workers are home. On their couches. BAM. We win.
Out running in my neighborhood on the weekends I’ll run by two or three people. If I run down around the pond that number turns into 20 or 30. And in the summer it’s too many to count. And to everyone there is a quick acknowledgement; a smile, a wave, a nod, or (my favorite) a high five. Especially when I’m fading and probably look like a passerby should call an ambulance instead of waving, these quick exchanges give me a little boost.
This part of running wasn’t something I expected. I knew that running, like most hobbies, was a great way to connect with people. Find out someone else runs for fun and watch how quickly you’re swapping bad race stories and your favorite training tips (mine are limited, but what I lack in quantity I try to make up for in quality). But I didn’t know runners were open to that connection while they’re out training or at a race. As it turns out, runners are a special breed and anyone who chooses to spend precious free time pounding pavement or gravel can claim the distinction of “runner”. For a while I didn’t believe that. I thought “well, I want to be a runner. But really I’m just a run/walker for now.” I’ve now learned that type of thinking is LIES. Runners are very welcoming. It’s sunny, raining, snowing, sleeting, doing all of them at once, it’s 95 degrees, it’s 11 degrees, your legs feel like lead, your legs are springs upon which your body is floating through the air (I’ve only experienced this for about 5 minutes. Total. In all my running. But I hear it happens a lot more as I start running more), you can’t focus, or your mind is like a steel trap, no matter what you’re feeling, if you are putting one foot in front of the other, you are a runner. And no one can take that away from you. And, as I’ve learned, no one actually wants to.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is this: When someone asks why I run, it’s not really to be fit or because I want to run a marathon someday (both true). It’s because runners are BOMB. And why wouldn’t I want to spend as much time around that zany, nerdy, disciplined, fun, and exhilarating energy as I possibly could??